“I don’t use cash any more, for anything,” said Louise Henriksson, 26, a teaching assistant in Sweden. “You just don’t need it. Shops don’t want it; lots of banks don’t even have it. Even for a candy bar or a paper, you use a card or phone.”
Cash transactions now make up only 2% of the value of all payments in 2015. In retail shops, cash is now barely used for 20% of all payments, half the number five years ago. Retailers and services are increasingly eliminating cash so much that Swedes are used to cashless payments. For instance, Swedish buses have not taken cash for years. To buy a ticket on Stockholm metro with cash is impossible, and retailers are legally entitled to refuse coins and notes. Street vendors and even churches increasingly offer card or phone payments.
Globally cash is used for 75% of all transactions on average. Sweden has become the leader in cashless payments. And 900 of Sweden’s 1600 banks no longer accept cash deposits, or keep cash on hand, and many, especially in rural areas no longer have ATMs. And over the last year, circulation of Swedish krona has fallen to 80bn from 106bn.
“I think, in practice, Sweden will pretty much be a cashless society within about five years,” said Niklas Arvidsson, associate professor Stockholm’s Royal Institute of Technology (KTH).
Cards are now the main form of payment, with Swedes using cards three times more than other Europeans. But mobile apps have also taken off as technology has become more ubiquitous. Swish, a hugely popular app with over 9 million payments a month, allows customers to transfer money between banks in real time. “Swish has pretty much killed cash for most people, as far as person-to-person payments are concerned,” said Arvidsson. “It has the same features as a cash payment – real-time clearing…”
Mobile apps with mini card readers attached to their phones are now used by even street vendors and homeless magazine sellers. Even churches have adopted cashless payments with one church reporting that 85% of their donations were by phone.
Sweden’s Nordic neighbors Norway, Denmark and Finland are also fast becoming almost entirely cashless societies. Cash is not dead yet. To go 100% cashless would require a political decision. The idea of cash – a cash option, remains strong.
The end-time prophecy of a no-buy, no-sell law for violating religious worship laws would work best under a cashless society.
“And that no man might buy or sell, save he that had the mark, or the name of the beast, or the number of his name.” Revelation 13:17.